For the first time since the 1956-57 season, the Alabama Crimson Tide opened its season with three straight game scoring over 100 points, as Alabama blasted the hapless South Alabama Jaguars 102-46 on Tuesday night (Bama opened the season with a 105-73 win over Morehead State and defeated Indiana State 102-80.)
Despite a slow start, overall it was the Tide’s best performance of the season: dominant rebounding, outstanding defense, and highly-efficient shooting. Alabama cut down on its turnovers, harassed USA on the perimeter, and then patrolled the paint much better than in its prior tuneups.
Alabama improved to 3-0, while USA fell to 1-2 on the young season.
Coach Nate Oats stayed with the same starting five of Mark Sears, Aaron Estrada, Grant Nelson, Rylan Griffen, and Nick Pringle. We may eventually see the lineup change, but for now this seems to give Alabama the most flexibility at starting tip.
The Tide jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but South fought back and even had a 13-7 lead six minutes into the game. With 11:32 left in the half the game was tied at 15-15. Then the Tide ramped things up.
Sears was on fire, hitting a pair of threes and netting a couple of hoops at the rim. Mohamed Wague — “Scooter Mo” replaced Pringle and made an immediate impact on both ends of the court. Sears and Griffen hit from long range, and freshman sharpshooter Sam Walters got his distance game going as the Tide built their lead. Latrell Wrightsell joined the parade and hit one from downtown to give Bama a lead of 47-23 at the half.
The Tide ended the half on a 40-10 run.
At the half Bama was shooting 17-27 for 63% including 7-12 for 58% from deep. After two games of excellent free throw shooting the Tide was only 6-12 from the charity stripe at the break. Alabama had 23 rebounds, 10 assists, one block, five steals, and five turnovers in the first. Sears led the way with 13 points and four assists. Walters was next with eight points in seven minutes.
South Alabama was held to 10-33 for 30% and only 3-16 from three point range for 19%. The Jags did not attempt a first half free throw. Maxwell Land with eight was the leading scorer.
The Tide sent out its starting five for the second half. Pringle got in the mix early, scoring on dunks and lay-ins on assists from Nelson. Nelson’s scoring was held down this game, but he was all over the court: blocking shots, making steals, handling the ball, and dishing out assists. With 15:48 left, the score was 57-26 in the home teams favor.
Several of the Tide’s bench players logged major minutes in the second half, as 11 players played 10 or more minutes. Redshirt freshman Devin Cosby heated up from deep, and when he hit a long three with 3:03 left, the Tide lead 92-36. The only question then was would the Tide make it to triple digits again. Freshman big man Jarin Stevenson nailed a three-pointer.
And, perhaps fittingly for such a deep team, walk-on Max Scharnowski got Alabama to the century mark with an old-fashioned three-point play to push Bama’s total to 102.
In the second half, Alabama shot 17-28 for 60% with 5-11 for 46% from three and 16-18 from the free throw line.
Overall, the Tide shot 34-55 for 62%, 12-23 for 52% from three, and 22-30 for 73% at the free throw line. Bama had 49 big rebounds, dished out 11 assists, blocked six shots, nine steals, and only 10 turnovers.
Individually, Sears scored 17 and notched five rebounds and five assists with a team-leading 23 minutes. Walters knocked in 16 points and grabbed four rebounds in just 16 minutes. Pringle had his best game of the season, with 12 points, seven rebounds, and a blocked shot. Oats had challenged Pringle to step up his game, and the senior center upped his game tonight. Scooter Mo Wague added 10 points, with seven rebounds, a pair of assists, and a steal. Nelson was held to six points, but had five rebounds, three blocks, and a team leading six assists. Estrada scored eight and added seven rebounds. Cosby had eight points in his 16 minutes.
South Alabama shot 4-27 from the field in the second half with 2-13 from deep. After zero free throw attempts in the first half the Jag’s shot 13-21 from the line. Overall the visitors shot 14-60 for 23%, 5-29 from deep for 17% and had 26 rebounds, six assists, six steals, two blocks, and 12 turnovers. Land led the team with 15 points while shooting 4-17 from the field.
What Oats Said:
Coach Oats said that “we played much better defense tonight,” and “we started slow but starting moving the ball better.” Oats added that scoring 102 points on only 72 possessions was amazing. The fourth year coach added that this was only the third time since he had been at Alabama that “we held an opponent under 50 points.”
Oats praised several of his players for being great teammates, especially Pringle who he said “is always happy for his teammates when they do well” and added that Stevenson “is one of the best people I’ve ever been around.” It is evident that Oats likes the make up and attitude of his team.
The Tide continues to show their depth, with 11 players logging double digit minutes tonight, and even its starting point guard having the team-high with just 23 minutes. For an idea of how insanely efficient this deep team went, Estrada won the high hat award tonight, posting an unreal +35 in just 21 minutes of play.
The emphasis Oats placed on defense since last Friday’s game also paid off tonight. ‘Bama can come at you in waves of height, length, and shooting ability. This year’s roster seems like Oats’s dream team in terms of the way he likes the game to be played: relentless effort, high volume shooting, and defense. The number of three-point shots are still not quite where he wants them to be, but the success rate has been fantastic — over 50% on the young season.
The team has one more cupcake before getting into the meat of the schedule next weekend. Alabama will welcome Mercer to Coleman on Friday for a 7 p.m. tip, in a game that will be available only on SEC Network Plus.
After a final midmajor tuneup, the Tide jumps into the heart of its out-of-conference schedule. Up first is a date with Ohio State in Destin, FL on Friday the 24th at 6 p.m. On Saturday, ‘Bama will play either Oregon or Santa Clara at either 3 p.m. or 6 p.m.
Even acknowledging that the schedule has not been daunting so far, how are you feeling about the rebuilt 2023-2024 Crimson Tide?
This poll is closed
A lot better than I expected
A little better than I expected
About on par for my expectations
I still have questions or reservations about this team
Not feeling so hot, actually